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Seventh-graders earn awards during Eagle Bluff trip

Austin Public Schools seventh-graders spent three days and two nights at Eagle Bluff, a private, non-profit learning center in Lanesboro. The trip was taken Feb. 8-12.

Rod Pesch and I led the excursion with help from 60 adults; more than 300 Ellis Middle School students attended. Because the seventh-grade class is too large for one trip, Team A went Monday through Wednesday and Team B went Wednesday through Friday. We were fortunate again to have students in Riverland Community College's truck driving program assist with the trip — they transported all luggage to and from Eagle Bluff on Monday and Wednesday.

During an orienteering course, Eagle Bluff naturalists taught students the value of a compass as a navigational tool. Others did a bit of time traveling, via Oneota and Pioneer Life, giving them the ability to compare their lives with that of people from the past. Students realized how lucky they are to have modern-day luxuries.

There were two new courses: the Big Freeze and Earth Explorations. The students would agree that the tree-top ropes course was the favorite activity, and it was exhilarating for both students and adults. It helped many students conquer their fear of heights and develop team-building skills.

The seventh-graders received the Eagle Eye Award for being good stewards of our natural resources by conserving energy throughout their stay at Eagle Bluff.


They were given another challenge by naturalists — limit their food waste while there — and they again won the Golden Clean Plate Award for the third straight year. The golden plate is awarded when the trip produces less than eight pounds of food waste.

The trip is a true gift to students: The approximate cost is $115 a student, but students pay only a fee for transportation thanks to a three-year partnership with Eagle Bluff and the school district and generous donations of two anonymous donors.

As this is the third year of this partnership, Ellis will need to raise funds totaling $10,000 a year in order to continue to keep the field trip a reality for future seventh-graders. If you are interested in supporting the trip, please contact Pesch or Ellis Principal Katie Berglund at 460-1500.

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